wokka. One of gamingís oldest icons has returned, in the form of a
brand new 3D platform game. From his humble roots way back in the
early 80ís and despite a console to call his own (aka Sonic,
Mario, etc.), Pac-Man has nevertheless endured as one of gamingís
premier icons. Pac-Man World 2 is a nostalgia-filled platform
experience thatís sure to please fans of the Man, although itís
by the book design probably wonít win over any new converts.
that despite the fact that Pac-Man pre-dates virtually every video
game character, his latest game borrows almost everything from other
platform games. One night the ghosts sneak into Pac-Village and
start horsing around, and in the process pick five golden fruits
from the big tree in the middle of the village. As it turns out,
those fruits were sealing up an ancient and evil presence known as
Spooky. Whoops. You can guess what follows: Pac-Man must set out to
retrieve the five golden fruits (each held by a different ghost aka
boss) and put Spooky back in his place.
It seems like
most of Pac-Manís game design was ripped straight out of Sonic
Adventure. His three basic attacks consist of a rev roll (spin dash
to Sonic fans), kick-flip (jump and then kick), and butt bounce (aka
every other platformer in existence). Levels are virtually identical
to the ones found in Sonic Adventure, mostly consisting of
side/forward scrolling levels filled with chasms, obstacles,
enemies, springboards, switches, etc. The camera system switches
between a fixed perspective and a free-rotating camera. Itís the
primary problem with the game, but Iíll get into that a little bit
Yet despite the
overall generic-ness of Pac-Man World 2, it still remains
fun. It uses tried and true staples of the platform genre, and pulls
them off better than almost any other platformer out there. The
controls are very tight, as Pac-Man responds instantly and
accurately to each button press throughout the game. A lot of moves
are context sensitive, so that Pac-Man will automatically hang from
ledges and shimmy along them right when you want him to. A butt
bounce will react the same everywhere, only changing based on what
you bounce on (a springboard will bounce you high in the air). Level
design is smart, with multiple branching paths, numerous hidden
areas, plenty of stuff to collect, and intuitive layouts.
And then, thereís
the arcade. Found in Pac-Manís home village, the arcade houses
five perfectly-emulated Pac-Man titles from the past. These include
the original Pac-Man, Pac-Attack, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Mania,
and the Pac-Man World 2 Maze Arcade. The last one is
basically a collection of all the mazes (hidden in each level) you
run across during the main quest, and once theyíre beaten they can
be accessed through the arcade unit at any time. The other four
require a certain number of collected tokens to unlock, as does the
jukebox located in the arcade. In addition to the arcade, the other
thing that helps to extend replay value is the number of things to
collect. In order to complete the game 100%, the player must collect
all the fruit and Pac-Dots found in each level. Most people probably
wonít bother, but it extends the game for those that will.
So while the
overall design is tight, what hurts the gameplay is the horrid
camera system. Unfortunately, it also seemingly copied this from Sonic
Adventure. The camera will often fix at a perspective that makes
it impossible to see our hero, resulting in many cheap deaths from
falling off of ledges and taking leaps of faith. When the camera
does give a good view of the action, itís still often hard to see
oncoming enemies and obstacles without constantly playing with it.
This is unfortunately the standard in most 3D platform games today,
but that doesnít excuse it.
The graphics are
very nice, with excellent texture work and an amazing cartoon feel.
There are a number of different enemies and obstacles to contend
with; each with itís own look and feel. Levels are huge,
stretching out as far as the eye can see with only minimal slowdown.
There is a little bit of pop-up on some of the larger levels, but
for the most part itís unnoticeable. There are also some basic
lighting and particle effects scattered throughout the game,
although theyíre hardly complex. While thereís a little less
geometry here than in most GameCube games (due to the gameís
basic, cartoon feel and the fact that itís a PS2 port), Namco has
still created an excellent looking game. Sometimes smart
design can make an average (technical-wise) game look much better,
and that's the casehere.
Sound is a
mixture of the old and the new. A lot of the sound effects are
pulled from classic Pac-Man games, including the dot-munching sound,
dying sound, etc. The new sound effects all have a retro
"feel" to them, and fit right into the rest of the game.
The music is much the same, with a mixture of remixed older tunes
and new ones in the same style. Good stuff.
classic Pac-Man games to be unlocked.
- Lengthy quest
with plenty of stuff to collect provides a good bit of replay
- The music
fits the adventure perfectly.
- Controls are
extremely tight and react exactly as you want them to.
- Very nice
graphics. Nothing overly complex, but that doesnít matter when
it still looks as sharp and vivid as this does.
- Possibly the
worst camera system ever.
- Almost all
gameplay mechanics are ripped straight from other popular mascot
- Probably too
"kiddie" for a lot of gamers.
- Some minor
pop-up and slow-down issues, along with a few bugs that happen
rarely (nothing worse than getting stuck in a rock).
2 is a
fun, but predictable, platforming experience. It successfully copies
the mechanics of most other platform games, which unfortunately
includes a horrid camera ala Sonic. Alone itís still an
above-average platform experience, but the inclusion of classic
Pac-Man games pushes the value of this game up considerably.